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Books > Performing Arts > The Kathakali Complex (Actor, Performance and Structure)
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The Kathakali Complex (Actor, Performance and Structure)
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From the Jacket

Kathakali dance-drama is one of the most widely known forms of Indian performance shaped by the legacy of the classical tradition. The Kathakali Complex is a multi-faceted study of this dance-drama from India's southwest coastal state, Kerala. The volume assumes that Kathakali exists, not as a static tradition-bound museum piece, but rather as a dynamic form of cultural performance. Kathakali, like other forms of cultural performance, exists in the interstices and interplay between its received traditions and the vicissitudes of the modern world which combine to produce change in al aspects of the performance form, from techniques and training to patronage and organizational structure. The volume examines Kathakali as a "complex," i. e., an intricate set of relationships between and among its specific parts: techniques, aesthetic principles, structure, socio-cultural environment, etc. the Kathakali Complex attempts to provide a basic history and description of the techniques, training, and performance parameters of the for,' an appreciation of the genre and its received aesthetic principles' and an analysis of both the deep structure of the form and of the dynamic set of forces within which the form exists.

While The Kathakali Complex should be of interest to the general public, it has been written with two specific audiences in mind: those whose interest in Kathakali stems from their own participation in the creative arts, especially dance and theatre, and those who focus on the study of cross-cultural performance. The organization of the book reflects this attempt to reach two audiences, and to make the work accessible to both the specialist and the individual with little previous knowledge of Kathakali or Indian performance. For the individual with little knowledge of Kathakali, the volume begins with a narrative account of three Kathakali performances, each corresponding to a different aspect of today's Kathakali world (Chapter 1). The second chapter traces the sources and process of historical development of Kathakali, ending with a brief overview of the Kathakali repertory of plays. For the performing artist the "meat" of the book is found in Chapters 3, 4, and 5 in which the actor training process and techniques are first presented, and then followed by a detailed account of the actor in performance. The sixth chapter, "Performance Structure: An Analysis," should be of most interest to the scholar of Indian aesthetics and performance, and also to the scholar of cross-cultural performance. However, even for the Performer, the detailed analysis of Kathakali's performance score should make clearer it highly complex and creative deep structure.

The final chapter, " The Organization and Dynamism of the Kathakali Experience," is a multiple final prism for both audiences, playing out the implications of the analysis of Kathakali's structure, and the forces of change confronting Kathakali today.

The Kathakali Complex attempts to break new ground in the study of traditional forms of Indian performance by bringing to the discussion of the performance genre not simply description and appreciation, but a deeper understanding of the complex set of relationships and forces which create, sustain, maintain, and shape the form through time.

The inclusion of over 250 photographs and 30 diagrams enhances both the basic description of Kathakali techniques and training, as well the analytical sections of the book. The volume concludes with selections from interviews with a wide number of Kathakali students and actors, a glossary, and an extensive bibliography.

About The Book

Kathakali dance-drama is one of the most widely known forms of Indian perform- ance shaped by the legacy of the classical tradition. The Kathakali Complex is a multi-faceted study of this dance-drama from India's southwest coastal state, Kerala. The volume assumes that Kathakali exists, not as a static tradition- bound museum piece, but rather as a dynamic form of cultural performance. Kathakali, like other forms of cultural performance, exists in the interstices and interplay between its received traditions and the vicissitudes of the modern world which combine to produce change in all aspects of the performance form, from techniques and training to patronage and organizational structure. The volume examines Kathaka]i as a "complex," i.e., an intricate set of relationships between and among its specific parts: techniques, aesthetic principles, structure, socio-cul- tural environment, etc. The Kathakali Complex attempts to provide a basic his- tory and description of the techniques, training, and performance parameters of the form; an appreciation of the genre and its received aesthetic principles; and an analysis of both the deep structure of the form and of the dynamic set of forces within which the form exists.

While The Kathakali Complex should be of interest to the general public, it has been written with two specific audiences in mind: those whose interest in Kathakali stems from their own participation in the creative arts, especially dance and theatre, and those who focus on the study of cross- cultural performance. The organization of the book reflects this attempt to reach two audiences, and to make the work accessible to both the specialist and the individual with little previous knowledge of Kathakali or Indian performance. For the individual with little knowledge of Kathakali, the volume begins with a nar- rative account of three Kathakali perfor- mances, each corresponding to a different aspect of today's Kathakali world (Chapter 1). The second chapter traces the sources and process of historical deve- lopment of Kathakali, ending with a brief overview of the Kathakali repertory of plays. For the performing artist the "meat" of the book is found in Chapters 3, 4, and 5 in which the actor training process and techniques are first presented, and then followed by a detailed account of the actor in performance. The sixth chapter, "Performance Structure: An Ana- lysis," should be of most interest to the scholar of Indian aesthetics and perform- ance. and also to the scholar of cross- cultural performance. However, even for the performer. the detailed analysis of Kathakali's performance score should make clearer its highly complex and creative deep structure.

The final chapter, "The Organization and Dynamism of the Kathakali Experi- ence," is a multiple final prism for both audiences, playing out the implications of the analysis of Kathakali's structure, and the forces of change confronting Kathakali today.

The Kathakali Complex attempts to break new ground in the study of tradi- tional forms of Indian performance by bringing to the discussion of the perform- ance genre not simply description and appreciation. but a deeper understanding of the complex set of relationships and forces which create, sustain. maintain, and shape the form through time.

The inclusion of over 250 photographs and 30 diagrams enhances both the basic description of Kathakali techniques and training. as well as the analytical sections of the book. The volume concludes with selections from interviews with a wide number of Kathakali students and actors, a glossary, and an extensive bibliography.

About the Author

Phillip Zarrilli is currently Assistant professor of Theatre and Drama at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he is director of the Asian Theatre Program. He first studied Kathakali during 1976-77 while on a Fulbright Fellowship. Professor Zarrilli edited Martial Arts in Actor Training, and has published numerous articles on Indian and western theatre topics. He is currently preparing a jointly authored major work on Indian Theatre. In addition, he served as editor of Asian Theatre Bulletin from 1978-1982. As a director and teacher he has introduced many American Students to Indian theatre and to both Kathakali dance-drama and kalarippayatt martial art techniques. In 1979 he directed UCLA's production of Sakuntala and in 1991 he directed an adaptation for the stage, Martial Tales of India.

Preface

KA THAKALI has become a world famous dance-drama within the last fifteen years. Nearly every foreigner who visits Kerala wants to see a Kathakali performance. In addition there has been a growing interest in Kathakali, not just among casual tourists, but among Western performers of theatre and dance as well as Western scholars of cultural performance. While this book may be of interest to the casual observer of Indian performance, it is intended for two audiences: those whose interest in Kathakali stems from their own participation in the creative arts, especially dance and theatre, and those who specialize in the study of cross-cultural performance. Trying to make this book accessible to both of these audiences is, to say the least, difficult. But that is what I attempt in my own double life: the bridging of the particular interest of the performer in what and how a performance is created with the interest in why, where, and for whom that performance is created.

The organization of the book reflects this attempt to reach two audiences. For the individual with little knowledge of Kathakali, I begin with a narrative account of three Kathakali performances, each corresponding to a different aspect of today's Kathakali world (Chapter 1). The second chapter traces the sources and process of development of Kathakali, ending with a brief overview of the Kathakali repertory of plays. For the performing artist, the "meat" of the book is to be found in Chapters 3, 4, and 5 in which the actor training process and techniques are first presented, and then followed by a detailed account of the actor in performance.

The sixth chapter, "Performance Structure: An Analysis," should be of most interest to the scholar of Indian aesthetics and performance, and also to the scholar of cross-cultural performance. Hopefully, even for the performer, the detailed analysis of the Kathakali performance score will shed light on its highly complex, and creative deep structure.

The final chapter, "The Organization and Dynamism of the Kathakali Experience," is a multiple final prism for both audiences, playing out the implications of the analysis of Kathakali's structure, and the forces of change confronting Kathakali today.

In 1977 I published a rather brash article in Sangeet Natak, "Demystifying Kathakali," in which I called for a reassessment of Kathakali once it had been thoroughly "de-mystified." The six years it has taken to prepare this book reflect the difficulty of this challenge. Hopefully, my dual approach as per- former/director/participant and performance scholar will help to refocus and rechannel methods used for the study of Indian performance.

It might be helpful for the reader to know how I initially came to this study of Kathakali. I first went to India in 1976-77 on a Fulbright Fellowship as a theatre director. My involvement in Kathakali grew out of an original interest in the techniques and methods of training of the Kathakali actor, and of the application of such techniques in Western performance. In part, this initial interest was sparked by the writings and exercises of Jerzy Grotowski in the 1960's. Out of my own practical theatre work, then, comes this volume's attempt to communicate the essence and techniques of the Kathakali actor to other performing artists. The flavour and approach are, at times, decidedly Western, and I freely and unabashedly use Western acting terminology in an attempt to "de-formalize" a basic understanding of the Kathakali actor's process.

Over the years my second interest in Kathakali grew out of my attempt to understand the specific and unique place which Kathakali has in Kerala culture, as well as the deep structure of the form which reflects the facts of its cultural history. Furthermore, my own practical training, first in Kathakali and later in kalarippayatt (Kerala's martial art), led me experientially down a road in which my own body was being re-educated to a new way of being physically. My use of martial techniques in actor training opened new doors to under- standing both the place of physical training in Indian culture, and the problems of intercultural transmission. Further, my own practical production work, first at UCLA and later the University of Wisconsin, brought guest artist M.P. Sankaran Namboodiri, my Kathakali teacher, into the eye of the cyclone of intercultural transmission in the 'Western use of Kathakali training and perfor- mance techniques. I/we were suddenly confronting Kathakali today on the international as well as local, indigenous planes. All of these complex factors and experiences have gone into the creation of this book. But this volume will, of course, not be the final word(s) on Kathakali; rather, a step along the way to a better understanding of its techniques, aesthetics, and dynamics as a form of performance.

Everyone who undertakes the task of describing and interpreting perfor- mance outside one's own culture knows the futility of acknowledging the deep felt gratitude one feels to all who have given help and assistance, whether formal or casual. But I shall try.

First of all, I am grateful to the Fulbright-Hays people, both in the United States and in India, for the opportunity to carry out my research and training in Kerala in 1976-77. The University of Minnesota in the same year gave partial supplemental grants from the MacMillan and Graduate School Special Grants funds. In the summer of 1980 a brief return trip to Kerala was made possible through the American Institute of Indian Studies, as well as assistance from the University of Wisconsin Graduate School. For all of this support, I am deeply appreciative.

I am very grateful to all of the Kathakali actors/teachers, students, and administrators who put up with persistent and what must have seemed at times obscure and banal questions. But most thanks must go to the Kerala Kala- mandalam, and from the Kalamandalam M.P. Sankaran Namboodiri, and Vasudevan Namboodiripad. As my Kathaka]i teacher and guide respectively, they gave more than one could ask of patience, time, and friendship. M.P. Sankaran Namboodiri's two trips to the United States to work with me both creatively in production situations, and academically in studying his great art, provided us with countless hours of time together to pursue the detailed aesthetic and performance structure questions addressed in this volume. To the Brittingham Foundation at the University of Wisconsin I am particularly grateful for funding Mr Namboodiri's presence for a full semester of work together. Chapter 6 of this book would never have been possible without this extended time together for reflection, analysis, and discussions hours on end. Kunju Vasudevan Namboodiripad also did yeoman service on both my trips to Kerala as my research assistant. He knows my appreciation of his help. All of the photographs contained in this volume are either by the author, or from the camera of Mr Namboodiripad, with several photographs (as marked) offered by Mr David Bolland, a true appreciator of Kathakali.

Another American Institute of Indian Studies grant in 1983 afforded an opportunity for last minute research and some rewriting of materials on Kathakali in the non-traditional setting.

Finally, I would like to thank the continued support and encouragement of Dr Dennis Hurrell and Richard Schechner whose long-term support has always been present. To Farley Richmond and Joan Erdman go thanks for their feedback, comments, etc. on my initial attempts at performance analysis. Jim Brandon's critical comments were extremely helpful in a last minute rewrite. Deborah Neff was a constant source of support, encouragement, and honest commentary which kept the final revisions focused. Through all of this my children, Barth and Samara, have waited patiently for their personal copies of a book they long hoped to look at, and thereby remember, performances of Kathakali they saw in India.

To Ruth Koontz and Mary Zellmer go a tremendous thanks for their typing efforts .

What wisdom and insights this book may contain are largely due to all these people; however, the work is of course my own, and all its faults are certainly mine.

CONTENTS
  Preface ix
  Transliteration and Pronunciation Guide xv
  List of Figures xvii
  List of Diagrams xxiii
Chapter 1: The Worlds Of Kathakali: An Introduction 1
  Performance 1 : Sampoorna Ramayana: A Kerala Village, 1976 12
  Performance 2 : Kiratam, Venice Beach, California, 1979 23
  Performance 3 : Kirmira Vadham, Trichur Regional Theatre, 1976 30
Chapter 2 : The Sources And Development Of Kathakali 37
  Classical, Folk and Ritual Roots 39
  Sources of Kathakali 41
  The Birth and Growth of Kathakali 45
  Kathakali as a Dynamic, Evolving, Dance-Drama 55
  Kathakali Texts and the Traditional Repertory 58
Chapter 3 : The Creation Of The Kathakali Actor, Part I: An Overview 65
  Introduction: The Scope of the Kathakali Acting Process 67
  An Overview: Western Actor Training and Kathakali Training 69
  Types of Training: Past and Present 73
  Selection of the Full-Time Actor Today 78
  Formal Full-Time Training 81
  The Training of the Part-Time Student 91
Chapter 4: The Creation Of The Kathakali Actor, Part II: The Actual Process 95
  The Actor's Ideal and Fourfold Abhinav 97
  The External: Specific Training Exercises and Techniques 104
  Preliminary Training 104
  Entering the Kalari 107
  Namaskaram with Application of Oil 107
  Cattam (jumps) 109
  Ketticattam (practice jump steps) 109
  Myyarappatavu (sixteen body control exercises) 109
  Kalsadhakam (footwork patterns) 117
  Massage (Uliccil) 120
  Kannusadhakam (eye practice) 123
  Cuzhippu 125
  The Language of Gestures-Mudras 126
  Exercises for Hands, wrists, Upper Body, Arms 130
  Learning Tala (rhythm practice) 130
  Performing Mudras in Combination 131
  Exercises of the Facial Mask 133
  Preliminary Dances 135
  Intergration of Techniques: Advanced Classes 136
  Training in Attam 138
  The Internal: Drawing on Life Experience and Maturity 140
Chapter 5: The Kathakali Actor In performance 145
  Performance Space and context 147
  Traditional Outdoor Performances 149
  Sri Vallabha Temple Performances 153
  Contemporary Stage Performances 158
  The Kerala Kalamandalam Kuttampalam Stage 161
  Stage Conventions 164
  Time and Order of Performances 167
  Make-up and Costumes: "Transforming" the Actor 169
  Make-up Types, Basic Costuming, and the Process 170
  Role Refinement and Kathakali Acting 178
  Properties 181
  Kathakali Music: Supporting the Actor 182
  Overview: Raga, Tala, and Kala 182
  The Vocalists 188
  The Orchestra 188
  The Composite Stage Art 189
  The Creation of Archetypal Characters 190
  The Dancer's Art: Selected Examples of Kathakali Choreography 191
  Concluding Note: Cosmic Play and display in Kathakali 211
Chapter 6: Kathakali Performance Structure: Analysis 217
  Performance Score and Text 219
  Textual Sub-Units 223
  Dance-Acting Sub-Units 225
  The Sloka in Performance 228
  The Performance of Dandakas 235
  The Performance of Padas 236
  Dance-Acting Sub-Units in Performance 246
  Summary: The Total Performance Structure and Score 249
  Conclusions 254
  Afterward: Today's Performance Scores 258
Chapter 7: The Organization And Dynamism Of The Kathakali Experience 261
  The Organization of Kathakali: Patronage and Power: Past and Present 263
  Traditional Patronage and Audiences 265
  School Troupe Patronage and Organization from 1930 to the Present 270
  Tradition and Change in Kathakali Today 289
  The Dancers 292
  The Modernizers: Guru Gopinath and the Creation of a New Kathakali Style 310
  Tourist Performances 315
  Theatre Translators 323
  The Dynamism of Kathakali 333
  Kathakali Performance Continuums 333
  Change at the Centre 341
  Change at the Periphery 348
Appendix I : Six Kathakali Training Schools 357
Appendix II : Kathakali Student and Actor Interviews 359
Appendix III : Margi Kathakali School: Two Scenes from Bali Vijayam 379
Glossary   383
Bibliography   393
Index   401

 

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The Kathakali Complex (Actor, Performance and Structure)

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From the Jacket

Kathakali dance-drama is one of the most widely known forms of Indian performance shaped by the legacy of the classical tradition. The Kathakali Complex is a multi-faceted study of this dance-drama from India's southwest coastal state, Kerala. The volume assumes that Kathakali exists, not as a static tradition-bound museum piece, but rather as a dynamic form of cultural performance. Kathakali, like other forms of cultural performance, exists in the interstices and interplay between its received traditions and the vicissitudes of the modern world which combine to produce change in al aspects of the performance form, from techniques and training to patronage and organizational structure. The volume examines Kathakali as a "complex," i. e., an intricate set of relationships between and among its specific parts: techniques, aesthetic principles, structure, socio-cultural environment, etc. the Kathakali Complex attempts to provide a basic history and description of the techniques, training, and performance parameters of the for,' an appreciation of the genre and its received aesthetic principles' and an analysis of both the deep structure of the form and of the dynamic set of forces within which the form exists.

While The Kathakali Complex should be of interest to the general public, it has been written with two specific audiences in mind: those whose interest in Kathakali stems from their own participation in the creative arts, especially dance and theatre, and those who focus on the study of cross-cultural performance. The organization of the book reflects this attempt to reach two audiences, and to make the work accessible to both the specialist and the individual with little previous knowledge of Kathakali or Indian performance. For the individual with little knowledge of Kathakali, the volume begins with a narrative account of three Kathakali performances, each corresponding to a different aspect of today's Kathakali world (Chapter 1). The second chapter traces the sources and process of historical development of Kathakali, ending with a brief overview of the Kathakali repertory of plays. For the performing artist the "meat" of the book is found in Chapters 3, 4, and 5 in which the actor training process and techniques are first presented, and then followed by a detailed account of the actor in performance. The sixth chapter, "Performance Structure: An Analysis," should be of most interest to the scholar of Indian aesthetics and performance, and also to the scholar of cross-cultural performance. However, even for the Performer, the detailed analysis of Kathakali's performance score should make clearer it highly complex and creative deep structure.

The final chapter, " The Organization and Dynamism of the Kathakali Experience," is a multiple final prism for both audiences, playing out the implications of the analysis of Kathakali's structure, and the forces of change confronting Kathakali today.

The Kathakali Complex attempts to break new ground in the study of traditional forms of Indian performance by bringing to the discussion of the performance genre not simply description and appreciation, but a deeper understanding of the complex set of relationships and forces which create, sustain, maintain, and shape the form through time.

The inclusion of over 250 photographs and 30 diagrams enhances both the basic description of Kathakali techniques and training, as well the analytical sections of the book. The volume concludes with selections from interviews with a wide number of Kathakali students and actors, a glossary, and an extensive bibliography.

About The Book

Kathakali dance-drama is one of the most widely known forms of Indian perform- ance shaped by the legacy of the classical tradition. The Kathakali Complex is a multi-faceted study of this dance-drama from India's southwest coastal state, Kerala. The volume assumes that Kathakali exists, not as a static tradition- bound museum piece, but rather as a dynamic form of cultural performance. Kathakali, like other forms of cultural performance, exists in the interstices and interplay between its received traditions and the vicissitudes of the modern world which combine to produce change in all aspects of the performance form, from techniques and training to patronage and organizational structure. The volume examines Kathaka]i as a "complex," i.e., an intricate set of relationships between and among its specific parts: techniques, aesthetic principles, structure, socio-cul- tural environment, etc. The Kathakali Complex attempts to provide a basic his- tory and description of the techniques, training, and performance parameters of the form; an appreciation of the genre and its received aesthetic principles; and an analysis of both the deep structure of the form and of the dynamic set of forces within which the form exists.

While The Kathakali Complex should be of interest to the general public, it has been written with two specific audiences in mind: those whose interest in Kathakali stems from their own participation in the creative arts, especially dance and theatre, and those who focus on the study of cross- cultural performance. The organization of the book reflects this attempt to reach two audiences, and to make the work accessible to both the specialist and the individual with little previous knowledge of Kathakali or Indian performance. For the individual with little knowledge of Kathakali, the volume begins with a nar- rative account of three Kathakali perfor- mances, each corresponding to a different aspect of today's Kathakali world (Chapter 1). The second chapter traces the sources and process of historical deve- lopment of Kathakali, ending with a brief overview of the Kathakali repertory of plays. For the performing artist the "meat" of the book is found in Chapters 3, 4, and 5 in which the actor training process and techniques are first presented, and then followed by a detailed account of the actor in performance. The sixth chapter, "Performance Structure: An Ana- lysis," should be of most interest to the scholar of Indian aesthetics and perform- ance. and also to the scholar of cross- cultural performance. However, even for the performer. the detailed analysis of Kathakali's performance score should make clearer its highly complex and creative deep structure.

The final chapter, "The Organization and Dynamism of the Kathakali Experi- ence," is a multiple final prism for both audiences, playing out the implications of the analysis of Kathakali's structure, and the forces of change confronting Kathakali today.

The Kathakali Complex attempts to break new ground in the study of tradi- tional forms of Indian performance by bringing to the discussion of the perform- ance genre not simply description and appreciation. but a deeper understanding of the complex set of relationships and forces which create, sustain. maintain, and shape the form through time.

The inclusion of over 250 photographs and 30 diagrams enhances both the basic description of Kathakali techniques and training. as well as the analytical sections of the book. The volume concludes with selections from interviews with a wide number of Kathakali students and actors, a glossary, and an extensive bibliography.

About the Author

Phillip Zarrilli is currently Assistant professor of Theatre and Drama at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he is director of the Asian Theatre Program. He first studied Kathakali during 1976-77 while on a Fulbright Fellowship. Professor Zarrilli edited Martial Arts in Actor Training, and has published numerous articles on Indian and western theatre topics. He is currently preparing a jointly authored major work on Indian Theatre. In addition, he served as editor of Asian Theatre Bulletin from 1978-1982. As a director and teacher he has introduced many American Students to Indian theatre and to both Kathakali dance-drama and kalarippayatt martial art techniques. In 1979 he directed UCLA's production of Sakuntala and in 1991 he directed an adaptation for the stage, Martial Tales of India.

Preface

KA THAKALI has become a world famous dance-drama within the last fifteen years. Nearly every foreigner who visits Kerala wants to see a Kathakali performance. In addition there has been a growing interest in Kathakali, not just among casual tourists, but among Western performers of theatre and dance as well as Western scholars of cultural performance. While this book may be of interest to the casual observer of Indian performance, it is intended for two audiences: those whose interest in Kathakali stems from their own participation in the creative arts, especially dance and theatre, and those who specialize in the study of cross-cultural performance. Trying to make this book accessible to both of these audiences is, to say the least, difficult. But that is what I attempt in my own double life: the bridging of the particular interest of the performer in what and how a performance is created with the interest in why, where, and for whom that performance is created.

The organization of the book reflects this attempt to reach two audiences. For the individual with little knowledge of Kathakali, I begin with a narrative account of three Kathakali performances, each corresponding to a different aspect of today's Kathakali world (Chapter 1). The second chapter traces the sources and process of development of Kathakali, ending with a brief overview of the Kathakali repertory of plays. For the performing artist, the "meat" of the book is to be found in Chapters 3, 4, and 5 in which the actor training process and techniques are first presented, and then followed by a detailed account of the actor in performance.

The sixth chapter, "Performance Structure: An Analysis," should be of most interest to the scholar of Indian aesthetics and performance, and also to the scholar of cross-cultural performance. Hopefully, even for the performer, the detailed analysis of the Kathakali performance score will shed light on its highly complex, and creative deep structure.

The final chapter, "The Organization and Dynamism of the Kathakali Experience," is a multiple final prism for both audiences, playing out the implications of the analysis of Kathakali's structure, and the forces of change confronting Kathakali today.

In 1977 I published a rather brash article in Sangeet Natak, "Demystifying Kathakali," in which I called for a reassessment of Kathakali once it had been thoroughly "de-mystified." The six years it has taken to prepare this book reflect the difficulty of this challenge. Hopefully, my dual approach as per- former/director/participant and performance scholar will help to refocus and rechannel methods used for the study of Indian performance.

It might be helpful for the reader to know how I initially came to this study of Kathakali. I first went to India in 1976-77 on a Fulbright Fellowship as a theatre director. My involvement in Kathakali grew out of an original interest in the techniques and methods of training of the Kathakali actor, and of the application of such techniques in Western performance. In part, this initial interest was sparked by the writings and exercises of Jerzy Grotowski in the 1960's. Out of my own practical theatre work, then, comes this volume's attempt to communicate the essence and techniques of the Kathakali actor to other performing artists. The flavour and approach are, at times, decidedly Western, and I freely and unabashedly use Western acting terminology in an attempt to "de-formalize" a basic understanding of the Kathakali actor's process.

Over the years my second interest in Kathakali grew out of my attempt to understand the specific and unique place which Kathakali has in Kerala culture, as well as the deep structure of the form which reflects the facts of its cultural history. Furthermore, my own practical training, first in Kathakali and later in kalarippayatt (Kerala's martial art), led me experientially down a road in which my own body was being re-educated to a new way of being physically. My use of martial techniques in actor training opened new doors to under- standing both the place of physical training in Indian culture, and the problems of intercultural transmission. Further, my own practical production work, first at UCLA and later the University of Wisconsin, brought guest artist M.P. Sankaran Namboodiri, my Kathakali teacher, into the eye of the cyclone of intercultural transmission in the 'Western use of Kathakali training and perfor- mance techniques. I/we were suddenly confronting Kathakali today on the international as well as local, indigenous planes. All of these complex factors and experiences have gone into the creation of this book. But this volume will, of course, not be the final word(s) on Kathakali; rather, a step along the way to a better understanding of its techniques, aesthetics, and dynamics as a form of performance.

Everyone who undertakes the task of describing and interpreting perfor- mance outside one's own culture knows the futility of acknowledging the deep felt gratitude one feels to all who have given help and assistance, whether formal or casual. But I shall try.

First of all, I am grateful to the Fulbright-Hays people, both in the United States and in India, for the opportunity to carry out my research and training in Kerala in 1976-77. The University of Minnesota in the same year gave partial supplemental grants from the MacMillan and Graduate School Special Grants funds. In the summer of 1980 a brief return trip to Kerala was made possible through the American Institute of Indian Studies, as well as assistance from the University of Wisconsin Graduate School. For all of this support, I am deeply appreciative.

I am very grateful to all of the Kathakali actors/teachers, students, and administrators who put up with persistent and what must have seemed at times obscure and banal questions. But most thanks must go to the Kerala Kala- mandalam, and from the Kalamandalam M.P. Sankaran Namboodiri, and Vasudevan Namboodiripad. As my Kathaka]i teacher and guide respectively, they gave more than one could ask of patience, time, and friendship. M.P. Sankaran Namboodiri's two trips to the United States to work with me both creatively in production situations, and academically in studying his great art, provided us with countless hours of time together to pursue the detailed aesthetic and performance structure questions addressed in this volume. To the Brittingham Foundation at the University of Wisconsin I am particularly grateful for funding Mr Namboodiri's presence for a full semester of work together. Chapter 6 of this book would never have been possible without this extended time together for reflection, analysis, and discussions hours on end. Kunju Vasudevan Namboodiripad also did yeoman service on both my trips to Kerala as my research assistant. He knows my appreciation of his help. All of the photographs contained in this volume are either by the author, or from the camera of Mr Namboodiripad, with several photographs (as marked) offered by Mr David Bolland, a true appreciator of Kathakali.

Another American Institute of Indian Studies grant in 1983 afforded an opportunity for last minute research and some rewriting of materials on Kathakali in the non-traditional setting.

Finally, I would like to thank the continued support and encouragement of Dr Dennis Hurrell and Richard Schechner whose long-term support has always been present. To Farley Richmond and Joan Erdman go thanks for their feedback, comments, etc. on my initial attempts at performance analysis. Jim Brandon's critical comments were extremely helpful in a last minute rewrite. Deborah Neff was a constant source of support, encouragement, and honest commentary which kept the final revisions focused. Through all of this my children, Barth and Samara, have waited patiently for their personal copies of a book they long hoped to look at, and thereby remember, performances of Kathakali they saw in India.

To Ruth Koontz and Mary Zellmer go a tremendous thanks for their typing efforts .

What wisdom and insights this book may contain are largely due to all these people; however, the work is of course my own, and all its faults are certainly mine.

CONTENTS
  Preface ix
  Transliteration and Pronunciation Guide xv
  List of Figures xvii
  List of Diagrams xxiii
Chapter 1: The Worlds Of Kathakali: An Introduction 1
  Performance 1 : Sampoorna Ramayana: A Kerala Village, 1976 12
  Performance 2 : Kiratam, Venice Beach, California, 1979 23
  Performance 3 : Kirmira Vadham, Trichur Regional Theatre, 1976 30
Chapter 2 : The Sources And Development Of Kathakali 37
  Classical, Folk and Ritual Roots 39
  Sources of Kathakali 41
  The Birth and Growth of Kathakali 45
  Kathakali as a Dynamic, Evolving, Dance-Drama 55
  Kathakali Texts and the Traditional Repertory 58
Chapter 3 : The Creation Of The Kathakali Actor, Part I: An Overview 65
  Introduction: The Scope of the Kathakali Acting Process 67
  An Overview: Western Actor Training and Kathakali Training 69
  Types of Training: Past and Present 73
  Selection of the Full-Time Actor Today 78
  Formal Full-Time Training 81
  The Training of the Part-Time Student 91
Chapter 4: The Creation Of The Kathakali Actor, Part II: The Actual Process 95
  The Actor's Ideal and Fourfold Abhinav 97
  The External: Specific Training Exercises and Techniques 104
  Preliminary Training 104
  Entering the Kalari 107
  Namaskaram with Application of Oil 107
  Cattam (jumps) 109
  Ketticattam (practice jump steps) 109
  Myyarappatavu (sixteen body control exercises) 109
  Kalsadhakam (footwork patterns) 117
  Massage (Uliccil) 120
  Kannusadhakam (eye practice) 123
  Cuzhippu 125
  The Language of Gestures-Mudras 126
  Exercises for Hands, wrists, Upper Body, Arms 130
  Learning Tala (rhythm practice) 130
  Performing Mudras in Combination 131
  Exercises of the Facial Mask 133
  Preliminary Dances 135
  Intergration of Techniques: Advanced Classes 136
  Training in Attam 138
  The Internal: Drawing on Life Experience and Maturity 140
Chapter 5: The Kathakali Actor In performance 145
  Performance Space and context 147
  Traditional Outdoor Performances 149
  Sri Vallabha Temple Performances 153
  Contemporary Stage Performances 158
  The Kerala Kalamandalam Kuttampalam Stage 161
  Stage Conventions 164
  Time and Order of Performances 167
  Make-up and Costumes: "Transforming" the Actor 169
  Make-up Types, Basic Costuming, and the Process 170
  Role Refinement and Kathakali Acting 178
  Properties 181
  Kathakali Music: Supporting the Actor 182
  Overview: Raga, Tala, and Kala 182
  The Vocalists 188
  The Orchestra 188
  The Composite Stage Art 189
  The Creation of Archetypal Characters 190
  The Dancer's Art: Selected Examples of Kathakali Choreography 191
  Concluding Note: Cosmic Play and display in Kathakali 211
Chapter 6: Kathakali Performance Structure: Analysis 217
  Performance Score and Text 219
  Textual Sub-Units 223
  Dance-Acting Sub-Units 225
  The Sloka in Performance 228
  The Performance of Dandakas 235
  The Performance of Padas 236
  Dance-Acting Sub-Units in Performance 246
  Summary: The Total Performance Structure and Score 249
  Conclusions 254
  Afterward: Today's Performance Scores 258
Chapter 7: The Organization And Dynamism Of The Kathakali Experience 261
  The Organization of Kathakali: Patronage and Power: Past and Present 263
  Traditional Patronage and Audiences 265
  School Troupe Patronage and Organization from 1930 to the Present 270
  Tradition and Change in Kathakali Today 289
  The Dancers 292
  The Modernizers: Guru Gopinath and the Creation of a New Kathakali Style 310
  Tourist Performances 315
  Theatre Translators 323
  The Dynamism of Kathakali 333
  Kathakali Performance Continuums 333
  Change at the Centre 341
  Change at the Periphery 348
Appendix I : Six Kathakali Training Schools 357
Appendix II : Kathakali Student and Actor Interviews 359
Appendix III : Margi Kathakali School: Two Scenes from Bali Vijayam 379
Glossary   383
Bibliography   393
Index   401

 

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